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When, how, and how often should you clean your gutters?

Home maintenance is nobody’s favorite activity. Still, maintaining the outside of your home is important. This includes cleaning your gutters. Whether you’re a first time homeowner or have owned your home for years, cleaning your gutters can be confusing. Why do you need to clean your gutters? How often should your gutters be cleaned? How do you go about cleaning gutters in the first place?

Fear not. Read on for everything you’ve ever needed to know about getting your gutters clean and free of leaves and debris this fall.

Why is cleaning your gutters important?

Cleaning your gutters may seem like an arbitrary task. It’s certainly easy to ignore. After all, for many people, out of sight means out of mind. However, neglecting your gutters will only come back to haunt you. Cleaning your gutters on a regular schedule is important to protecting your home from water damage.

Neglecting your gutters can lead to them becoming impassable. Clogged gutters do not whisk water away from your home in the way they are designed. The result is water that is drained improperly or not at all. This can lead to significant water damage, freezing issues and ice dams, or even create circumstances for mold and pests such as mosquitos to thrive.

When and how often should you clean your gutters?

It is important that you establish a regular cleaning schedule for your gutters, and stick to it. Most homes should set a goal to clean gutters twice a year–once in the spring, and again in the fall. However, this frequency can change depending on a number of factors.

If your home is shaded by a large amount of deciduous trees (meaning they lose their foliage in the fall), then you may need to clean your gutters more often, especially in the fall months. If you are unable to keep up with more regular cleaning, you have several options. You can hire a company to assist you, or you can trim tree branches that overhang and drop their leaves onto your roof.

Another time to clean gutters is after a severe storm. Storms producing large amounts of rain can dispose of debris in your gutters that needs to be cleared. It is good practice to check your gutters and roof after severe weather to assess for damage and spot any needed repairs.

How to Clean Your Gutters

Maybe you know that you should be cleaning your gutters. Perhaps the real challenge has more to do with not knowing where to start. Thankfully, cleaning your gutters is fairly easy to do yourself, given that you have the right equipment and are prepared to take necessary safety measures.

Collect the right equipment.

The first step in successfully cleaning your gutters is to make sure you have the right equipment on hand. You don’t need much, but there are a few tools that will make your job easier and safer. These items include:

  1. An extendable ladder

  2. Long sleeved shirt

  3. Rubber gloves

  4. Gutter scoop or towel

  5. Protective eyewear 

  6. Tarp

  7. Long length of garden hose.

It is critical that your ladder be sturdy. For added security, consider purchasing a ladder stabilizer. Never set up a ladder on uneven ground. For extra safety, have an additional person on hand to help spot you.

Scoop your gutters.

Once you’ve set up your ladder and put on your protective gear, it’s time to get scooping. You can scoop your gutters using a designated gutter scoop, or a gardening trowel. Whatever tool you choose needs to be sturdy enough to cut through the build up and muck. Avoid metal tools that could scrap or damage your gutters.

Collect Debris

As you scoop, drop debris onto a tarp below. This material should be disposed of in a yard waste facility. If you have a compost pile, you may be able to add the organic matter to your compost, as well.

Rinse Your Gutters

Once your gutters are clear and free from leaves, silt, and other debris, it’s time to rinse them. To rinse your gutters, extend a long length of garden hose. Turn on the water and run through gutters until it is clean and clear. If you do not have a hose handy, you can rinse repeatedly with a bucket of water.

After rinsing gutters, check for damage or any quick fixes. Gutter repairs can be simple, though some may need an expert eye.

Can you hire someone to clean your gutters?

For most homeowners, cleaning your gutters is a routine DIY process that can be done without any professional assistance. However, if mobility and safety is a concern, or if your home has gutters that are out of reach, you may need to bring in a professional.

Yes, you can hire someone to clean your gutters for you. Of course, you can ask around the neighborhood, but there are plenty of professionals who offer this service, too.

How much does cleaning your gutters cost?

Getting your gutters cleaned isn’t as cheap as doing it yourself. However, it’s far from the most expensive outdoor maintenance task. The national average for professional gutter cleaning is between $118 and $224.

Prices for cleaning gutters vary depending on a number of factors. Factors include length of gutters, extent of cleaning, accessibility, and pitch of your roof, among others. The overall national average for gutter cleaning services is $159.

At the end of the day, cleaning your gutters in the fall and spring is far from anyone’s favorite home maintenance task. However, it’s critical to ensure the integrity of your home, prevent damage to your home’s infrastructure, and stomp out potential mosquito breeding ground. If you haven’t cleaned your gutters yet this fall, take this as your sign to break out the ladder. Your home will thank you later.

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